If you think you might have COVID-19, get tested for the health of everyone in your community

April 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a lot of stress and anxiety in communities around the world. We understand this can be a very stressful time for all Alaskans and especially our rural communities, where medical resources and infrastructure are limited due to geographic isolation.

If you or a family member is showing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath), ANTHC recommends getting tested. Earlier this week, ANTHC sent out forty rapid-testing machines and 2,400 coronavirus test kits for use in our rural Alaskan communities. The machines, called ID NOW testing units developed by Abbott Laboratories, allow for health care providers to receive test results on the same day a person is tested.

Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma toward getting tested and toward people with the disease or the family of a person with the disease. Stigma can also occur after a person has been released from COVID-19 quarantine even though they are not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others. ANTHC cannot stress enough the importance of getting tested if you are showing symptoms.

If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, getting tested helps protect your family, friends and community. If a person knows they have COVID-19 and they properly self-isolate, they are doing a good thing for their community by not spreading the virus to anyone else. This is crucial to protect our communities, and especially our Elders, who are more vulnerable to serious complications if they contract this virus.

“Getting tested soon as possible, when indicated by your provider, is the most effective, important way to help one’s community in preventing the spread of this infection,” said Dr. Jacob Gray, an infectious disease physician at Alaska Native Medical Center. “Nobody should be blamed for having COVID-19 and testing is confidential.”

Our Alaska Native people and communities are strong and resilient. We take care of one another. We protect and respect our Elders. We are community minded, never just looking out for ourselves, but our community as a whole. It’s our way of life to take care of one another. A way to do that right now is to be tested if you are showing symptoms. All test results will be kept confidential.

If you have a positive test result or have symptoms that you do not want to share, it is your responsibility to self-isolate within your home. You must do whatever you can to not spread the virus to anyone else. We understand it can feel lonely to self-isolate, but it is absolutely necessary in protecting our people and our communities.

Please do your part to take care of your community. Get tested if your health care provider recommends it. Practice physical distancing (staying 6 feet or more from others). Practice hand hygiene often. Stay home as much as possible. Let’s come together to overcome COVID-19.

For more information, visit: https://anthc.org/covid-19-testing-at-anmc.

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